I am continually encouraged by the openness and indeed willingness of the BBC and other media to tackle the issue of child to parent violence and abuse. When I am contacted there is a recognition that this is an important emerging topic; and there is an understanding of the prevailing myths and that a more nuanced explanation is called for than simply attributing it to poor parenting. More than this though, I frequently hear “we covered it a while ago and promised were would come back to it later”, and ” we need to raise awareness”.
This week, for instance, BBC Radio Kent made it a feature on their Wake Up Call programme (available till the middle of October), and episode 38 of the current series of the hospital drama, Holby City (also available until mid October), includes a story line about child to parent violence in amongst the relationship crises with which it is regularly strewn!
Making this a commonplace event helps families to recognise that other people are experiencing something similar, it breaks down isolation, and it makes it easier to find the words to describe the problems and ask for help. It also has the potential to generate a greater understanding in the wider population. So thank you BBC and thank you to all the other outlets which cover this issue!
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a colleague about our separate work around child to parent violence (CPV). As we rounded things up, a third person, who had been listening in, asked if they might make a comment. They told of a friend’s difficulties with their child, and commented that they had not thought about it in these terms before. I wasn’t surprised. Almost without fail, when I talk about my interest and work, whether at a conference, a party, to someone I know or a complete stranger, someone will seek me out later – ask for my contact details, request a private conversation, or perhaps share their own experience there and then. Barbara Cottrell first recorded this same experience in her book, When Teens Abuse their Parents. I have heard of similar experiences when a media outlet has covered this or another aspect of family violence. Suddenly there is much to-ing and fro-ing in the corridors, as reporters or other staff find someone safe to disclose their concerns to.
But more than this. I have been at gatherings where I have looked round and easily identified 10% of the group who have already confided in me. Yet the other 90% of people there may not be aware of the difficulties they face, for all manner of reasons. We know there are many things that cause parents to hold back The overwhelming shame of their experience may mean that they feel unable to broach the issue even with a best friend. The minimising as it becomes the norm may mean that families do not recognise their experience as abusive. They may fear the opprobrium of others, or a backlash from their child. They may believe there is nothing anyone can do anyway.
We still don’t have a definitive idea of the prevalence of child to parent violence and abuse. The figure of 10% is one which is regularly offered. It comes from a number of places, dating back to the early ‘counting’ in the US. Various research studies have suggested that it offers the best figure we have. Some (eg Gallagher) have questioned whether 10% is too high, including too broad a definition. Others (Routt and Anderson) suggest that the figures we have represent only the tip of the iceberg and so the likely number is much higher. Certainly, within some vulnerable group (such as adopters) the incidence has been suggested to be much greater.
All of which leads me to the conclusions that 1) the experience of violence and abuse from a child to parent is more widespread than we realise, and 2) most people know someone experiencing CPV even if they are not aware of it. There are many people working to make this part of every day conversation. It is incumbent upon us to create an environment where people feel safe to come forward; where they can be assured of an understanding and empathetic ear; and where timely and proper support is available.
The tagline on the Premier webpage reads Stay informed and inform others with up to the minute news from a Christian perspective.
With a 60% increase in listeners over the year 2017-18, Premier Radio is one of the few winners reported by Radio Today as total radio listening drops; though the total figure of 227,000 still falls well short of the top London station, Capital, with 1.866 million listeners. Nevertheless, there are many whose day-to-day Christian faith includes listening to a radio station which offers music, discussion and news from a particular perspective. I have regularly visited homes, schools and offices where it has been playing as a background track to the business of the day. The website itself boasts 4019 followers, and the Facebook page apparently has 37K ‘Likes’. These things bring responsibility surely. Continue reading
My son is now 15 and is going to live with his dad. I should have done it a long time ago. (Marley Carroll, November 2018)
At this point I am simply counting the days until she is 18. (Witsend, March 2019)
There are plenty of other similar comments on the Silent Suffering blogsite, and many other places where parents meet up to vent their pain and frustration, and to seek advice and help. An understandable response from a parent, if the problem is one of regular and increasing violence and abuse over a protracted period of time; rather shocking that it has come to this point where parents feel they can no longer carry on; but ultimately not the preferred outcome if what we are aiming for from the start is greater safety all round. Continue reading
The Home Office published its latest VAWG Strategy papers this week, with the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls 2016 – 2020 Strategy Refresh, and the Ending Violence against Women and Girls Action Plan 2016 – 2020 Progress Update. Once again, I was disappointed to see that there was no mention of children’s and adolescent’s violence and abuse towards their parents, though not entirely surprised since it is has not featured as a specific issue since 2014, and only one line mention in 2016. The irony is that, at a local level, many areas are now developing their own strategic response; but by omitting this aspect of violence and abuse from central government documents – and thinking – it remains invisible, unconsidered, and unimaginable for too many people. Continue reading
I am proud to announce that the book I have been working on for the last year is due for publication very soon!
The field of child to parent violence and abuse is a rapidly changing one, as new learning and understanding emerges to challenge our way of thinking and service delivery. This makes it an exciting field in which to be working – but also requires us to be on the ball with new research and training opportunities. This last year has seen important work from Dr Hannah Bows into parricide and eldercide; and more findings from a survey of parents by Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, including a challenge to the definition currently in use. Have we got it wrong when we draw distinctions between children, young people and adults in the use of violence towards parents? Should we be using different approaches where children have a diagnosis of ASD or ADHD? Is this a different thing all together, or are there huge overlaps within the community of young people using violence and abuse in the home? Should we be representing this with a giant Venn diagram? Continue reading